OTTUMWA – Indian Hills now knows what it takes to get to number one.

Staying there to the end of the year is going to be another test all together.

In their first game as a top-ranked team in five years, IHCC fell behind in the first half against Region XI foe Marshalltown Saturday at the Hellyer Student Life Center. The Warriors turned to tenacious defense and a dominant rebounding effort in the second half to take a 74-62 victory over the Tigers.

“We’re the top-ranked team in the nation and they haven’t won a game in region play, so they came out with a lot of fire and jumped on us early,” sophomore David Dubois, who scored 14 points in the Warriors’ nation-best 27th straight win, said. “We had to weather that and, in the second half we played much better to come out with the win.”

IHCC’s clinched a share of their first regional title since 2002 with the win. The Warriors will look to take the regular season crown outright next week at Iowa Western, who stayed alive in the title race with a 68-62 win at Southeastern.

“It’s not going to get easier, it’s only going get harder,” IHCC head coach Jeff Kidder said. “People aren’t just playing us anymore, they’re playing for something. We’ve got to rise to the occasion. We did that in spurts tonight.

“The effort was there, the execution wasn’t. That’s the bottom line tonight.”

The first four minutes of action saw Indian Hills execute excellently, leading to four straight field goals to open the game. Marshalltown went the exact opposite way, missing three straight shots before losing three straight turnovers.

IHCC scored the game’s first eight points and found themselves up 14-4. Kenard Moore, one of Marshalltown’s all-regional guard duo, suddenly shot the Tigers ahead by burying four straight 3-pointers as part of a 14-point surge that led a 20-3 Marshalltown run.

Indian Hills, which missed three of 15 shots after the 4-4 start, found themselves behind 24-17 with eight minutes to go in the half.

“Marshalltown came out and really competed hard. We go up by 10 early and they didn’t stop playing,” Kidder said. “Moore was unconscious. We were guarding him hard and he still didn’t miss.”

Marshalltown shot 47 percent from the field while nailing nine 3-pointers. Moore led that charge, hitting six treys and scoring a game-high 24 points.

IHCC’s pressing defense forced a grand total of 25 Marshalltown turnovers. Indian Hills turned many of those into instant points, using 14 steals to create numerous breakaway lay-ups including three in a row during a 14-0 scoring run that put IHCC back up 35-27.

“Once we get the turnovers, we want to capitalize,” Kashif Watson, who put home a dozen points, added. “Coach is always telling us that. We’ve got to take advantage when we can get easy baskets.”

Indian Hills more then doubled their lead in the second half as the Warriors crashed the boards against the Tigers. After being outrebounded by five in the first half, IHCC responded with 26 second half boards to finish with up 11 in the category.

Sophomore all-region center Nestor Colmenares paced the Warriors rebounding efforts. Colmenares, who has played at an MVP pace in the past week, grabbed 16 rebounds while also scoring a game-high 16 points.

“Nestor’s as good a competitor as I’ve ever had at his position,” Kidder said. “There are times when we just get on his back. That’s what you want. You want a big time player that says, ‘Hey, I’ll lead you.’”

Indian Hills led by as many as 16 points before Marshalltown closed to within 70-62 in the final minute.

Indian Hills (27-0) will face two tough foes in the final week of the regular season. Before facing the Reivers in Council Bluffs next weekend, IHCC hosts Moberly Monday in a rematch of the top-ranked Warriors’ toughest non-regional road game of the year.

“We don’t just want to be number one, we want to stay number one and win out to the national championship,” Watson said.

No. 1 Indian Hills 74, Marshalltown 62

MARSHALLTOWN (62) – Kenard Moore 24, DaShawn Wright 15, Luis Valera 6, Cem Dinc 5, Tony Hauger 4, Marco De Souza 3, Martez Hawkins 2, Colby Steele 2, Josh Guillory 1. Team 23-49 7-13 62.

3-points – 9-20 (Moore 6-15). Fouled out - Hawkins. Rebounds – 30 (Valera 6, Wright 6). Assists – 20 (Hawkins 10). Steals – 6 (De Souza, Guillory, Hawkins, Steele, Valera, Wright). Blocks – 5 (Dinc 2, Valera 2). Turnovers – 25. Total Fouls – 21.

IHCC (74) – Nestor Colmenares 16, David Dubois 14, Kashif Watson 12, Sean Haluska 10, Marcus Walker 9, Dominique Thuston 8, Jabril Banks 2, Ali Farokhamensh 2, Robert Palacois 1. Team 29-66 15-22 74.

3-points – 1-5 (Thuston 1-3). Rebounds – 41 (Colmenares 16). Assists – 24 (Walker 9). Steals – 14 (Colmenares 3, Palacios 3). Blocks – 2 (Colmenares, Thuston). Turnovers – 15. Total Fouls – 17.

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